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5 Standing Ab Exercises You Can Do (Almost) Anywhere

Your core plays a role in every movement you make. From lifting your kids to walking more efficiently, the core is integral to your daily functioning, which is why you need to strengthen it regularly. But don’t think you’re stuck having to get down on the ground for old-fashioned crunches every time. You can actually train your core while standing up, and there are tons of great benefits to doing so. 

“By doing standing abdominal work, you utilize the core in an upright, vertical position while holding your own body weight, or what we often call bracing the core,” says Denise Chakoian, a certified personal trainer and the founder and owner of CORE, Cycle.Fitness.Lagree in Providence, R.I. That’s much easier to achieve from a standing versus a lying position, and it pays off in a big way. “It’s a more functional workout, and you train balance and stability at the same time,” she adds. In other words, along with getting some extra bang for your buck, you’re training your core to move as it does (or should) during the day.

How often can or should you train the core? You can do it every day, as long as you’re changing the exercises from time to time, Chakoian says. Trying out some standing ab exercises is a perfect—and effective—way to add variety to your core-strengthening plan.

Below, Chakoian designed a five-move routine that will shake up your core training, because all of the exercises are done from a standing position. Bonus? You don’t need to change into exercise clothes, and you can pretty much do them wherever you are. Aim to do each one two or three times through, moving slowly and mindfully at first. “You can sometimes overcompensate with your lower spine for core moves if you do them incorrectly or too fast,” Chakoian warns. As you move through them deliberately, feel your core fire in each move.


Single Leg Lifts

Standing Ab Exercise illustration: single leg lifts

Stand with feet hip-width apart. Extend your arms out to the sides of your body with arms lifted to shoulder height (making a “T” shape) and palms facing down. Shift weight to your left foot and lift your right leg straight up in front of you as high as you can without letting your back round. Release your foot to the floor and repeat 15 times. Switch sides and repeat.


Lateral Side Standing Crunch

Standing Ab Exercise illustration: lateral side standing crunch

Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms down by your sides. Extend your right arm up and over the left side of your head as far as you can. At the same time, press your left arm down by the side of your left leg. Release, moving your right arm back over your head and letting your left arm return to its natural position at your side. Repeat 15 times. Switch sides and repeat.


Torso Twist

Standing Ab Exercise illustration: torso twist

Stand with feet hip-width apart. Bring your palms together in a prayer position in front of your chest. From this position, extend your arms straight in front of you at shoulder level, fingers pointing away from you, and rotate the waist and shoulders to the right as far as you can. Keep shoulders down and relaxed as you do this. Return back to center and repeat to the right side 15 times. Switch sides and repeat.


Overhead Reach Knee Tuck

Standing Ab Exercise illustration: overhead reach knee tuck

Stand with feet hip-width apart. Reach both arms up overhead, shoulder-width apart, so your elbows are by your ears. Keeping arms extended, shift weight onto your left foot and lift your right knee off the floor toward your chest as high as you can without letting your back round. Release the right leg to the floor and switch to the left leg. Continue alternating marches for 60 seconds. Take a 20-second break and repeat for another minute.


Diagonal Chops

Standing Ab Exercise illustration: diagonal chops

Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms to the sides. Bending knees into a squat—keeping knees behind toes and weight in your heels—reach both hands down toward the outside of your right foot. Release the squat as you start to stand, slowly moving your arms across your body and overhead to the left corner of the room (your arms should be “chopping” the air in a diagonal line in front of your body). Keep hips squared to the front as you rotate through the core. Return to center and repeat 15 to 20 times. Switch sides and repeat.

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